Faith & Action (Part 2 of Reflections on Truth & Belief)

This is the opening paragraph of my book, Most Good, Least Harm:
“During my sophomore year in college I embarked upon a quest for inner peace. I yearned for relief from a persistent lack of purpose and meaning in my life. I began to study various philosophies and religions, hoping I would discover within them that elusive inner peace I sought. One evening, I was talking with a rabbi about my struggle to understand and experience faith. He told me not to worry about faith, that it didn’t matter what I believed. ‘What matters,’ he said, ‘is how you live and what you do.’"
Although I appreciate the power and beauty of faith, what matters most to me is what people do, not what they believe. While people’s beliefs influence their actions, it’s not necessary to have faith to do good, just as it’s possible to have faith and do evil.

Some days, I lose faith even in the capacity of my acts to make a difference. In these moments of hopelessness, I could succumb to my desires and allow them to eclipse my values. After all, when I feel despair about the possibilities for creating meaningful change, why bother to do the most good and the least harm? But I’m never really tempted to betray my values in any significant way. Even when I lose hope – or faith, if you will – my acts still represent me, my values, my ideals, my sense of self. To betray these is to betray myself.

But the wonderful thing about acts is that whether or not you have faith, good acts create a MOGO life and contribute to a MOGO world. They bring a similar sense of peace as faith, but they do so in such a concrete manner. I’ve often yearned for the faith that others experience, that allow them to endure the tempests of life with equanimity and peace, but that kind of faith eludes me. Instead I have the power of my choices to do good and bring good and which often serve as a balm against pain because goodness begets a host of positives: joy, gratitude, peacefulness, serenity, laughter, connection, and love.

Whether you are a person of faith or not, what matters most is your acts.

~ Zoe Weil
Author of Most Good, Least Harm and Above All, Be Kind


Image courtesy of mariachisamurai via Creative Commons.


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